I live in a rural area near Salem with crappy CenturyLink DSL the only broadband option -- if you can call about 7 mbps download and 1 mbps upload "broadband."
CenturyLink has told me that they are going to bring fiber optic broadband to our neighborhood exactly never.
And fast 5G wireless likely will be available in our area in the wilds of Oregon (six miles from the Salem city limits, the state capital, but it might as well be six hundred miles) at about the same time -- almost never.
So Elon Musk's Starlink satellite network is my best bet to avoid internet depression. I follow Starlink news on Twitter and was thrilled to see an Ars Technica story today, "Space X Starlink public beta begins: It's $99 a month plus $500 up front."
SpaceX has begun sending email invitations to Starlink's public beta and will charge beta users $99 per month plus a one-time fee of $499 for the user terminal, mounting tripod, and router. The emails are being sent to people who previously registered interest in the service on the Starlink website. One person in Washington state who got the email posted it on Reddit. Another person who lives in Wisconsin got the Starlink public-beta invitation and passed the details along to Ars via email.
SpaceX is calling it the "Better Than Nothing" beta, perhaps partly because the Starlink satellite service will be most useful to people who cannot get cable or fiber broadband. But the email also says, "As you can tell from the title, we are trying to lower your initial expectations."
Well, those lower expectations sound pretty damn good to me: 50 to 150 Mbps, so vastly faster than my 7 Mbps. Back in June I signed up for updates on the Starlink web site. I'd like to be a public beta tester, though the chance of this is slim.
As a consolation prize, the Ars Technica story mentioned Apple and Android Starlink apps. I eagerly downloaded the version for my iPhone. The main thing it does for me currently (actually, the only thing it does) is show how obstructed the view is of the northern sky.
This afternoon I climbed up on our roof and sat down in various places on the ridgeline. A ridgeline placement looks to be the easiest to install, according to two PDF files I found via some Googling.
Download Ridgeline_Mount_Guide.pdf | DocDroid
Download Volcano_Mount_Guide.pdf | DocDroid
Here's how an unobstructed view of the northern sky looks on the Starlink app. I took this screenshot from Lake Drive, the road our house in on.
Unfortunately, there were trees inside the bottom part of the circle from every point on our roof's ridgeline that I tested for an unobstructed view of the northern sky. That's the bad news.
The good news is that since we live on ten acres, we own all of the obscuring trees. Three tall firs and two large oaks. I forgot to take a screenshot from our roof, but here's photos of the trees from an elevation that is fairly close to the height of the ridgeline.
The three firs in the middle and middle right of the photo are quite a ways from our house. The two oak trees partially obscuring the rightmost fir tree are much closer. Below is a photo of the trees that focuses on them.
Hopefully we won't have to cut down the trees. Mostly our view of the northern sky through the Starlink app is clear. So when it's possible to order Starlink, my plan is to set up the dish on our roof, hook it up to the router, and see what happens.
If we can't connect to the Starlink satellites, or have a poor connection, then I'll call Elwood's Tree Service and have them take down the two oaks. Since they're close to our house, it makes sense to remove them to reduce the wildfire risk. If there's still a poor connection, I lean toward removing the fir trees one at a time.
My wife and I are tree lovers. However, large trees fall down frequently on our ten natural acres from wind, snow/ice, or old age. We're fortunate to have many large firs, oaks, and other types of trees on our property. Even so, cutting some or all of these five trees down isn't my first choice.
It just is extremely frustrating to have such a slow Internet connection. Some days our DSL slows markedly, making it difficult to do anything on the Internet. Streaming movies on Netflix or other services is problematic. Usually we can do this, but not always.
Maybe as Space X puts more Starlink satellites into orbit, the need for a totally unobstructed view of the northern sky will lessen. We are a bit south of the 45th parallel, so within the 44 to 52 degrees north latitude that will reportedly be the first rollout of the Starlink system.
I can hardly wait.